Monday, March 8, 2010

"The part of life we really live is small. For all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time." -Seneca

In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal. - Seneca

Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back. -Harvey MacKay
“Why do you delay,” says he, “Why are you idle? Unless you seize the day, it flees.” Even though you seize it, it still will flee; therefore you must vie with time’s swiftness in the speed of using it, and, as from a torrent that rushes by and will not always flow, you must drink quickly. -Seneca
Time is unquestionably every person's most important asset. Unlike other things that you can "have" like money or material possessions, it is constantly running out and can never be replaced. We all have a finite number of hours to squeeze the most out of, and once they're gone, they're gone.

We are all in danger of losing valuable time to unjustified causes.  Trying to identify the worst causes of lost time at a high level, many people would argue that time spent doing things that you really dislike is most dangerous. I would disagree- I would say that time spent doing things that are neither spectacular nor terrible is most dangerous. It's obvious something's wrong when you're doing things you hate. It's the equivalent of being diagnosed with an acute condition- you know that something needs to change and armed with a bit of courage and your convictions about the value of time, you can make a change. People might describe time that is neither spectacular nor terrible as "neutral" - but it really isn't because that time is gone forever. When you're inclined to think of something as simply neutral or bearable, it's easy to think no harm's being done and the hours slipping away start to really accumulate. It's most dangerous precisely because it is bearable. Time spent without meaning or purpose in school, work or in other places is like a chronic condition- it might be livable, but it's constantly hurting and holding you back, going undiagnosed for an long period of time. It's easy to fall in to this time trap, so you have to constantly stay vigilant. I highly recommend reading both David Foster Wallace's commencement speech at Kenyon College and Seneca's On The Shortness Of Life in their entirety. David Foster Wallace's commencement address concludes like this and I think it says it best:
It is about simple awareness -- awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: "This is water, this is water." It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post. It looks like it has been a while since you've posted to your blog. I hope you come back.